About Jodey Bateman Pablo Neruda Translations by Jodey Bateman Contributors Abuela Musica Jalapeno Peppers Children’s Page Finder Submissions

Amir Or, Poem | Poem

Poetry Offerings from Amir Or


A poem in three parts: Shaharit, The Foreigner, Song
Originally published in Hebrew by Tag/Hameuchad, 1999


The Barbarians (Round Two)

Blue Job

A Glass of Beer


I Look Through the Monkeys' Eyes

Poem (long version)


Amir in Japanese  /  Untitled



(translated from Hebrew by Helena Berg)

     This poem will be a poem of another century, not different from this one.
     This poem will be securely concealed    under heaps of words, until

     between the last sand grains of the hourglass,
     like a ship inside a bottle, it will be seen, this poem:

     the poem that will speak of innocence.  And common people that ostensibly
     were shaped by time, like tardy gods,

     will listen to it for no reason that wasn’t there before,
     rise their backs like snakes

     from the junk,    and there won’t be anywhere else
     to hurry from, and it won’t have an end

     different from its beginning.  It won’t be rich
     and won’t be poor.  It won’t bother anymore to promise

     and keep or carry out its utterances
     and won’t scrimp, or sail there from here.

     This poem, if it will speak to you, woman, it won’t call you
     muse-babe, and won’t lie with you like its fathers;

     or if to you, man, it won’t kneel or kill, won’t apply makeup
     and won’t take off its words and flesh, as it has not    has not --

     what.  Maybe now I’ll call it here, the bad poem
     of the century: here, sick with health    it barely walks

     drags its legs in the viscous current    of thoughts of the time
     or is stopped to show papers    and to have its trivia counted

     with arithmetical beads.  The inventory:  flowers and staples,
     corpses (yes, no worry), tall glasses.  After staples --

     also butterflies, and many footprints    and other hooks and shelves
     for the arguments of scholarly criticism, and also just to fool around, teeth

     against teeth, in the anarchic smiles of a chameleon    that doesn’t know
     its colours have long since turned into a parable.  Or in incomprehensible tranquillity

     to try someone else’s luck in games of
     to and fro    that have no goal other than, let’s say,

     a bit of fun the length of a line.  Spread orange on the blue
     of evening sky: now, plaster a little cloud.  Climb

     on it, see below: sea of sea, sand of sand.
     Or fingers.  Ten jointed worms

     move in inexplicable charm.  Now they encircle
     a ball whose circle is faulty, wonderful, fleshy,     further more,

     you may say a word (it’s a fruit, it’s called
     a peach).  And these words    their taste is full of the taste of

     its being, of a tone that accompanies the sight with wonder
     and not with a thought-slamming sound.  And this is the poem:

     it sings, let’s say, to the tar that stuck to the foot on the shore,
     to plastic bottles, to its own words.  It

     only sees: black atop white, transparent, or grainy.
     It is not less naked than you.  Also no more.  Only in this exactness

     that has no measure, but by the curves of a female-dog,
     a pot of cyclamens, or a hair strand on a bathtub railing.

     The creatures here don’t want to know.  The creatures
     there, that only want, are, for now, a possibility

     of becoming the creatures that are here, of becoming this antiquity
     that has nothing to say other than me, me, without limit

     without you.  A dog lies on a step in the afternoon
     sun, and does not distinguish itself from the flies.

top of page  / next


The Barbarians (Round Two)

Translated by Vivian Eden

It was not in vain that we awaited the barbarians,
it was not in vain that we gathered in the city square.
It was not in vain that our great ones donned their official robes
and rehearsed their speeches for the event.
It was not in vain that we smashed our temples
and erected new ones to their gods;
as proper we burnt our books
that have nothing in them for people like that.
As the prophesy foretold the barbarians came,
and took the keys to the city from the king’s hand.
But when they came they donned the garments of the land,
and their customs were the customs of the state;
and when they commanded us in our own tongue
we no longer knew when
the barbarians had come to us.
top of page  / next


Blue Job

Translated by Vivian Eden

He skipped all the way to the park in the drizzle.
He plucked a large leaf and wore it on his head.
Then he got rid of his shirt.
Then his shoes.
Beside the lake he stopped and stared at the water.
He rooted his toes in the black mud and swayed in the wind.
He was fired and free.

There isn’t, wasn’t, won’t be.
Clouds and more clouds.
A curious duck probes between his toes, a lightning hand,
he pressed and pressed. Now with both hands.
He twisted its neck around
like they used to do at secret parties
among the chicken coops at the kibbutz.
The duck ran, maybe ten yards
without its head
and collapsed on the water

The face of the waters exploded and turned blue.
He stood there, like a gutter
and urinated at length.
He had no shirt.
He was cold.

top of page  / next


A Glass of Beer
The perfect murder has no reasons, he said,
the perfect murder needs only a perfect object,
as it was in Auschwitz.
Not the crematoria, of course, but as it was
afrerwards, outside working hours.
And he fell silent
looking at the froth on the beer
and taking a sip.

The perfect murder is love, he said.
The perfect murder doesn’t require anything perfect
except giving
as much as you can.
Even the memory of gripping the throat
is eternal. Even the howls that rocked my hand,
even the piss that fell like grace on cold flesh,
even the hill that awakens another eternity,
even the silence, he said,
looking at the froth.

True, a decent job
frees a lot, but
a perfect murder doesn’t lose
a drop,
like the lips of a child, he explained,
like sand and froth,
like you
sipping and listening.

top of page  / next



Translated by Vivian Eden

O walker, leave the path a while,
sit among the berry trees and vines,
water and trees and stone so white.
Here I, a boy and king, do lie.

My face cold marble, my hands, my feet.
I am dressed in ferns and fallen leaves.
I too never went far afield
I too once lived and breathed.

O walker, leave the path a space,
crush wild berries on my face.

top of page  / next



I Look Through the Monkeys’ Eyes

Translated by Irit Sela

I look through the monkeys’ eyes,
as they play with my skull in the treetops.
I’m lifted with the eagle as he flies
because my entrails are in his;
in the belly of the earth
I crawl with worms
who ate my eyes out of my sockets;
I am green, I grow in the grass
That my rotting flesh makes rich.

O my body
How you have grown!

top of page

short bio

Artvilla  Wordplay  Moongate  Murfreesboronet  Clarksvilleweb Passenger Creek